One of the animal narrators in Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals, a dolphin named Sprout who is writing to Sylvia Plath, quotes Nobel Prize-winner Elias Canetti: ‘whenever you observe an animal closely, you feel as if a human being sitting inside were making fun of you.’ The ten animal souls whose thematically interwoven stories Dovey recounts do not simply ‘make fun’ of humans (far from it), but Canetti’s image of the ‘human sitting inside’ nevertheless provides an apposite introduction to Dovey’s project as a whole. Here each animal protagonist is an unashamedly literary, anthropomorphised invention, with physical and behavioural characteristics of its species grafted on in service to its creator’s startlingly original and imaginative design.
Only the Animals
by Ceridwen Dovey
Hamish Hamilton, $29.99 pb, 266 pp, 9781926428581
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